Setbacks are a part of life and every person responds differently to setbacks. Some people get over it quite easily while others find it harder to process. They may even get depressed, depending on the issue. Core beliefs, such as “see, I am clumsy” play an important role in this process. Because research has shown that small incidents regularly play a role in the development of depression for some people. A colleague with whom you get along quite okay but who is suddenly ignoring you, rejection after a first date or you being clumsy at a wrong time are examples of small incidents which can have a big impact.
“See, im indeed…” reflex
This is a reflex that occurs during trivial moments, according to clinical psychologist Claudi Bockting. “See, I am not nice enough” for example can be a reflex that pops up and can reinforce the strong negative feelings that someone already has. We all have a set of those reflexes that make us more vulnerable. It is no surprise that most of those reflexes date back to our childhood; an absent parent or certain life experiences are often the source of those reflexes. In psychology, these reflexes are called core beliefs. In general it is very useful to have certain rules of life because it helps you to recognize responses from the people around you faster. “I was a bit hard on my partner” if you notice that your partner is irritated for example. People who are prone to depression or anxiety complaints often have rules that are much more strict. According to Bockting, their core beliefs are much more extreme and more rigid. This makes it very difficult for these people to change their mindset if a situation changes or something happens.
Dysfunctional core beliefs
If you notice that you are regularly upset by relatively unimportant events, it could be an indication that a dysfunctional core belief is the root of the problem. A few examples of dysfunctional thoughts are:
“If anything can go wrong, it will.”
“See, I’m a failure.”
“People always leave me.”
“I am useless.”
Creating new core beliefs
The good news is that you can develop new core beliefs or thoughts to counter your dysfunctional thoughts. This prevents you from spiralling into a black hole. If you keep thinking that “If anything can go wrong, it will”, you will only be focussed on the things that can go wrong. This means that whenever you are successful, you will think that it is a coincidence. In recent years, Bockting has developed cognitive training for people who had to deal with recurrent depression. She examined their dysfunctional core beliefs and created “dream core beliefs”. You can see them as a counterpart to the dysfunctional rules. Bockting indicates that the dream core belief does not necessarily have to be realistic, because the strict living rules you have are also not always realistic. Once you have established a dream rule, you can try to visualise it as much as possible and fantasise about it. Do this as extensively as possible. According to Bockting, this worked for her clients. This allows you to try out new situations with new rules that can help you in your life.
Do you want to get started with exploring your core beliefs? Use the NiceDay journal entries. You can also plan when you want to fantasise about your “dream rules”. Good luck!